The New York Giants limp into New Orleans this Sunday a winless, hapless, battered caricature of the team they hoped to be this season. Here are some of the storylines to follow for this Week 4 meeting against the New Orleans Saints.
Dome, sweet dome
This is NOT what the 0-3 Giants need. The Superdome in New Orleans is a raucous, intimidating place for visiting teams to play under ordinary circumstances. This game in New Orleans is not an ordinary one for the Saints and their fans.
This will be the Saints first game this season at what is now called the Caesar’s Sportsbook. Hurricane Ida displaced the team in August. They set up shop in Texas and played their “home” opener in Jacksonville. A small fire at the Superdome recently caused roof damage, but the facility has been cleared for use.
If you’re hoping the Giants will catch the 2-1 Saints sleeping, the circumstances are unlikely to allow that.
Heat on Jason Garrett
The Giants are averaging 18.7 points per game, 24th in the league. That is just 1.6 points more than they averaged a season ago, despite the massive investments made in upgrading personnel and the return of Saquon Barkley. They just scored 14 points against an Atlanta Falcons team that had given up 80 over their first two games.
The heat is undeniably on offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to get more out of this group. Offensive line woes and wide receiver injuries aside, the Giants need to start scoring more points. If they don’t, Freddie Kitchens will be calling plays sooner rather than later.
Another left guard?
Shane Lemieux started at left guard Week 1. He’s now on IR. Nick Gates moved to that spot in Week 2, and we all watched his season end in gruesome fashion. Ben Bredeson started in that spot in Week 3. Now, Bredeson is reportedly dealing with a hand injury and his status is up in the air.
If Bredeson can’t play, who’s it going to be lining up between center Billy Price and left tackle Andrew Thomas? It’s unfair to expect Wes Martin, signed off the Washington Football Team practice squad Monday and getting on the field with the Giants for the first time on Wednesday, to be ready to play. Matt Peart has practiced a couple of times at guard, but he has never actually played the position and a couple of practices doesn’t mean he’s ready, or able, to handle it.
That probably leaves Matt Skura. The 28-year-old, in his fifth NFL season, has 51 NFL starts in 54 games. Thirty-nine of those, though, came at center for the Baltimore Ravens. Skura played right guard for Baltimore in 2017, starting 12 games there. He has played four snaps at left guard in his NFL career.
Wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard both suffered hamstring injuries against Atlanta on Sunday. No official injury information has been released as of this time, but I will be surprised if either player is available on Sunday against the Saints. Kenny Golladay played last week, but wasn’t 100 percent with a hip issue. It’s pretty apparent that throwing the ball to Evan Engram is not productive. The Giants seem to have forgotten about tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith, at least in the passing game.
It HAS to be time for the Giants to take the shackles off first-round pick Kadarius Toney, and feed him the ball. A lot. Doesn’t it?
Toney may not be ready to run the entire route tree and do all of the intricate things Shepard does. The Giants, though, need to figure out what he can do and let him do it. Collin Johnson and C.J. Board are fine reserves, but can’t be focal points of an offense.
Toney played a season-high 46 snaps last week, but had just two catches for 16 yards. He has only four catches for 14 yards thus far.
He needs more offensive touches than that on Sunday. In my view, it’s also time to give Toney opportunities to return kickoffs. Maybe punts, too. The Giants drafted Toney to create big plays. It’s about time they started giving him chances to make them.